Excitement Builds as NASA’s Mars Perseverance Launch Nears

Mars Perseverance rover
The Mars Perseverance rover will lift off aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday, July 30. The two-hour window opens at 7:50 a.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

A historic mission years in the making is now less than a week from liftoff.

Final preparations are being made for launch of NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover, targeted for Thursday, July 30, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Perseverance will lift off aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41. The two-hour window opens at 7:50 a.m. EDT.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling of pride and accomplishment — mixed with the excitement and nervous apprehension — that goes with this final stage of the mission,” said John Calvert, Mars 2020 Mission Manager for NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), which is based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is managing the launch.

The team has successfully overcome obstacles and challenges along the way, including working through a worldwide pandemic, to remain on schedule for launch.

Mars 2020 Mission Manager John Calvert

“Just throw COVID-19 on the pile of unexpected things that NASA and its incredible teams have been able to respond to and deal with for decades,” Calvert said. “It’s part of our DNA: work hard and solve the problems as they present themselves. Whatever it takes — simple as that.”

Live launch coverage will begin at 7 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The broadcast will capture major milestones as Perseverance starts her seven-month journey to the Red Planet. A postlaunch news conference is planned from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Several events leading up to launch also will be broadcast on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

  • Monday, July 27: Prelaunch news conference, from 1 to 2 p.m. NASA Associate Administrator for Communications Bettina Inclán will host the event, featuring NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen, Launch Director Omar Baez from LSP, and ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno. A Mars 2020 Mission Engineering/Science Briefing will follow, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 28: NASA Edge Rollout Show, from 10 to 11 a.m.; Mars 2020 Mars Sample Return Briefing, from 2 to 3 p.m.; and Mars 2020 Mission Tech and Humans to Mars Briefing, from 4 to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 29: Briefing with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard, Kennedy Director Bob Cabana and astronaut Zena Cardman, from noon to 1 p.m.

Perseverance will reach Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, touching down on the surface of Jezero Crater. About the size of a car with dimensions similar to the Curiosity rover, Perseverance will carry seven different scientific instruments. The rover’s astrobiology mission, developed under NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, will search for signs of past microbial life. It will characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

Attached to the belly of the rover and weighing less than four pounds is NASA’s Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity. The twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter will become the first aircraft to fly on another world.

For more information on Perseverance and its mission, visit the mission website. Follow along at blogs.nasa.gov/Mars2020 for live countdown and launch coverage.

NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Gets a Boost

Mars Perseverance rover booster offload
The United Launch Alliance booster for NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover is offloaded from the Antonov 124 cargo aircraft at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on May 19, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

With the addition of a powerful piece of hardware, NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover continues to progress toward its much-anticipated launch in less than two months.

The spacecraft’s booster arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Skid Strip on Monday, May 18. It was then offloaded and taken to United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center.

Mars Perseverance rover booster arrival
The Antonov 124 cargo aircraft, carrying the United Launch Alliance booster for NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover, taxis off the runway at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on May 18, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Perseverance remains on track for its targeted mid-July launch. The rover will liftoff aboard a ULA Atlas V 541 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is managing the launch.

Perseverance will reach the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021. After the rover enters the thin Martian atmosphere, the descent stage — utilizing a tether of nylon cords — will lower Perseverance to the surface of Jezero Crater.

Developed under NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, the rover’s astrobiology mission will search for signs of past microbial life. Ingenuity, the twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter attached to Perseverance, will become the first aircraft to fly on another world.

For more information, visit the mission website.

NASA Helicopter Ready to Hitch a Ride to the Red Planet

NASA's Mars Helicopter inside Kennedy Space Center's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility
NASA’s Mars Helicopter is installed on the agency’s Mars Perseverance rover inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on April 6, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/JPL

NASA’s Mars Helicopter will make history in about 10 months when it becomes the first aircraft to fly on another world.

Now it has its ride to the Red Planet.

On April 6, 2020, the helicopter was attached to the belly of the agency’s Mars Perseverance rover. The installation took place inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the rover has remained since its Feb. 9, 2020, arrival from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

NASA Mars Helicopter and Mars Perseverance rover at Kennedy Space Center
NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover, carrying the agency’s Mars Helicopter, will touch down on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021. Photo credit: NASA/JPL

The twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter weighs less than 4 pounds; the total length of its rotors is about 4 feet, tip to tip. Its main purpose is a technology demonstration. After Perseverance safely lands on Mars, the helicopter will be released to perform the first in a series of flight tests that will take place during 30 Martian days (a day on Mars is about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth).

For history’s first flight experimental flight test in the thin Martian atmosphere (less than 1% the density of Earth’s), the helicopter is tasked with hovering in the air a few feet off the ground for 20 to 30 seconds before landing. It is designed to fly on its own, without human control, using minimal commands from Earth sent in advance.

With the helicopter safely tucked away and covered by a shield to protect it during descent and landing, Perseverance will touch down on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021. Liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket is targeted between July 17 and Aug. 5 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy is managing the launch. For more in-depth information, visit the mission’s website.

Millions Tag Along for NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission

"Send Your Name to Mars" logo installation
The “Send Your Name to Mars” logo is installed on the Mars Perseverance rover on March 16, 2020, inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/JPL

When the Mars Perseverance rover begins its seven-month journey to the Red Planet in mid-July, it will be carrying the names of more than 10 million people throughout the world.

Those names were etched onto three microchips, which were placed aboard Perseverance. On March 16, 2020, inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the “Names to Mars” logo was installed on the rover.

Those who took advantage of the special public promotion also had the opportunity to receive a souvenir boarding pass and obtain “frequent flyer points” as part of humanity’s first round trip to another planet. In total, 10,932,295 people submitted their names. Turkey (2,528,844), India (1,778,277) and the United States (1,733,559) all had more than 1 million submissions.

NASA's Mars Perseverance rover at Kennedy Space Center
More than 10 million names were etched onto three microchips, which were placed aboard Perseverance. Photo credit: NASA/JPL

Perseverance will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

The rover will land on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021. Liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket is targeted for mid-July from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy is managing the launch.

Weighing more than 2,300 pounds, Perseverance is about the size of a car, with dimensions similar to the Curiosity rover. It was developed under NASA’s Mars Exploration Program.

Earlier this month at Kennedy, activities to measure mass properties of the Cruise Stage vehicle were performed on the spin table inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. Successful testing also was performed on NASA’s Mars Helicopter, which will be attached to Perseverance. The helicopter will be the first aircraft to fly on another planet.

Please visit the mission’s website for more information on the Mars 2020 mission.

Mars 2020 Rover Undergoing Processing at Florida Spaceport

Mars 2020 rover at Kennedy Space Center
The launch of the Mars 2020 rover is targeted for mid-July. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Soon after its arrival to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last week, the Mars 2020 rover was moved to the Florida spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, where it has been undergoing processing for its mission later this year. The spacecraft was flown to Kennedy from California aboard a C-17 aircraft on Feb. 12.

Targeted for mid-July 2020, the mission will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch is managed by the Launch Services Program.

The Mars 2020 rover will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of Mars.

Mars 2020 Rover Lift Activities Performed at Kennedy Space Center

Mars 2020 rover aeroshell lift activities
Lift activities for the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell are conducted inside Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility on Jan. 14, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Lift activities for the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell were conducted inside Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. The activities included installing the inverted lift fixture and lifting the aeroshell assembly to the spin table for mass properties measurements.

The Mars 2020 rover mission will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this summer. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy will manage the launch.

About the size of a car with dimensions similar to the Curiosity rover, the Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021.

Visit the mission website for more information.